What to Say on Sympathy Cards

by Katherine Brennan

Unfortunately, most people go through hard times at some point during their lives. Whether it is the loss of a loved relative, a favored pet, or a dear friend, many people experience the grief and loneliness associated with loss. If you know someone in this position, sending a sympathy card to them can help lift their spirits and know that people care. Writing a personal note in a sympathy card can be a bit challenging, but a few tips can help you deliver a caring message.

Choose an Appropriate Card

Woman holding card

Before you write the message, you've got to choose the card. Any card store or grocery store sells a variety of cards, including sympathy cards. Choose an appropriate card for the person. A safe bet is usually a card that expresses sympathy in a short and sweet manner. This leaves room for your own message and doesn't overwhelm the reader with too much text. Also, stay away from "humorous" cards meant to cheer the reader up. Even if you think you know the person well, people grieve differently and you don't want to offend someone with a funny card at a very sad time.

The Message

Man writing card

When crafting your message, take your time and avoid sloppy and hurried handwriting. This may give the impression that you took little time on your card. Think about your reader and the relationship that he or she had with the deceased. Then, write a short message telling them that you are very sorry for their loss. You can add they are in your prayers, or say you are there if they need to talk to anyone. If you knew the person, feel free to add a quick and thoughtful note, for example: "Your dad was a warm and loving person," or "Your friend had a big heart and we'll really miss her." Don't worry about the message being too short, just concentrate on the meaning behind the words.

Send in a Timely Manner

Letter in mail slot

Ideally, sympathy cards should be sent as soon as you hear about the sad event. Don't wait until a few weeks after hearing to stick the card in the mail, as this can make your sympathy message look like an afterthought. If you truly didn't hear about the loss until later, still send a sympathy card with a message that mentions that you just heard and that you care very much.

About the Author

Katie Brennan is an award-winning freelance writer in Denver. She realized her passion for prose at age 12, when she published a non-fiction essay in a national book. Brennan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and English from the University of Iowa.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images